I didn’t know how to feel watching Monday night’s Giants game. After spending the last six weeks rooting heavily against the Giants in order to enhance their draft position and end the Pat Shurmur era, I found myself unsure of how to act with Eli Manning starting.
I was against the team’s decision to use the No. 6 pick in the draft on a quarterback, especially Daniel Jones, after already bringing Manning and his salary back for the 2019 season. Once Manning was removed from the starting role following the Week 2 loss, I accepted that I had seen No. 10 play for the last time as a Giant, and had moved on to the Jones era and what would hopefully be the final season of watching and listening to the loser that Shurmur is. Following back-to-back losses in Weeks 5 and 6 to fall to 2-4, the Giants’ season was effectively over, and I spent the last nearly two months rooting against Big Blue, and it was a fun-filled and satisfying six weeks. I got a glimpse into the life of football fans who root and bet against the Giants, and let me tell you, it was a lot easier than rooting or betting in favor of the Giants. It felt as though the outcomes were predetermined as losing comes way too easy for this roster and this coach, and even in the few games in which the Giants had the lead or the score was close in the second half, they still easily managed to lose.
Monday presented a dilemma. I wanted the Giants to win under Manning to prove to the front office they had made the wrong decision in moving on from him both before the season by drafting Jones and during the season after only two games. In a year in which the NFC East champion might have a .500-or-worse record, had the Giants stuck with Manning, they could have been playing for the division title this month instead of figuring out who they will draft at No. 2 or possibly even No. 1.
If the Giants were to win on Monday, it would make Manning look better and Dave Gettleman and Shurmur look like fools, and would also move Manning’s career record back over .500. But a win would potentially go to helping Shurmur get a third season as Giants head coach (though no amount of wins for the rest of the season should help him keep his job). A Giants win would also greatly improve the hated Cowboys’ chances at winning the division and reaching the postseason. If the Giants were to lose, it would help justify Gettleman and Shurmur’s plan to move on from Manning, help the rival Eagles stay alive in the division race and decrease the Cowboys’ chances of reaching the postseason, which would decrease Jason Garrett’s chances of being the head coach of the Cowboys in 2020, which could lead to him becoming the head coach of the Giants, which would be the slightest upgrade over the organization’s last two head coaches. Because of the toss-up for what result would better serve the Giants, I decided to root for the Giants to win for Manning and no other reason.
The Giants didn’t win, losing another game they should have won. A game they led 17-3 at halftime and lost 23-17 in overtime as they were shut out after the first half. The Giants tried to play it safe in the second half with running plays and short passes, completely abandoning the deep passes which gave them their two-score lead, and their safe play allowed the Eagles’ defense to eventually solve the easy-to-solve Giants defense and come back to win.
The Giants did have their chances to win the game in the final minutes. They took over with 1:53 left, but a quick three-and-out gave the Eagles a chance to set up a game-wining field goal attempt, which is the way most Giants-Eagles games seem to end. For the first time in what feels like forever, the Giants’ defense actually prevented a last-minute score from losing them a game, but then Shurmur’s inability to doing anything right made its weekly appearance. With the Eagles facing a fourth-and-1 on their side of the field with more than 40 seconds left, the Giants had two timeouts. The Giants could use a timeout to stop the clock, receive a punt and have around 40 seconds and one timeout to move the ball in position for their own last-second field-goal attempt. Instead, scared the Eagles might go for it yet again on fourth-and-1 on their side of the field, Shurmur waited and waited and then waited some more to see what Doug Pederson might do, and it wasn’t until there was only 19 seconds left that Shurmur finally used a timeout. Shurmur had wasted nearly 30 seconds of clock standing there thinking about what to do a the clock continued to run and then all his offense could do was kneel the ball and hope to win the coin toss in overtime.
The Eagles won the toss, received the balls and minutes later, the game was over. The Giants never got a chance to either match or beat the Eagles in overtime as the defense arrived just in time to lose the team another game.
If that was the last time Manning ever plays for the Giants or in an NFL game, he went out playing well, throwing for two touchdowns and displaying his signature sideline deep balls that hopefully one day Jones will be able to throw to his own team.
The Giants were more than likely never going to the playoffs in 2019 no matter who was their quarterback, but a two-win season couldn’t have been expected, not with their schedule and not in this division. All that’s left for the Giants now is to continue this losing streak for the next three weeks, finish the season with 12 straight losses, pick second or possibly even first in the draft, and pack up Shurmur’s office, and potentially Gettleman’s office as well.